Posted on August 21, 2007, Shawn Sines Master of Horror: H. P. Lovecraft’s Birthday
Today the world celebrates the birth of the man who changed the way we look at horror, H. P. Lovecraft. Although Lovecraft’s work went largely unacknowledged within his lifetime, he redefined the horror genre influencing the books, movies, role-playing and video games that terrify us to this day. Lovecraft’s characters are “men of science” and learning confronted with overwhelming an incomprehensible supernatural forces. Sacrificing their beliefs, their sanity and ultimately their lives, they descend into madness as they struggle against inevitable defeat at the slimy tentacles of insatiable ancient evil. Many of today’s survival horror blockbusters have fallen under Lovecraft’s visceral spell. In honor of the masters birthday I thought it would be cool to look back at Lovecraft’s legacy in gaming.
The characters and settings in Lovecraft’s supernatural horror novel, “The Call of Cthulhu” and the â€œCthulhu Mythosâ€ have been an inspiration for some truly terrifying video games. Lovecraft’s legacy tainted Infocom’s The Lurking Horror, the first text based adventure to bring Lovecraftian horror to multiple computer platforms. The original Quake featured the Shub-Niggurath. The Shadow Hearts series is also heavily influenced by Lovecraft, who appears as a character in Shadow Hearts: From the New World.
Infogrames’ Alone in the Dark, one of the first survival horror games, delved into a disturbing world of the supernatural and the occult. The game is often credited as the grandfather of the Resident Evil series and has heavy Lovecraftian influences to the point where it actually includes the Necronomicon and De Vermis Mysteriis, both taken from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, in the game’s library. The game’s creature line up features classic Lovecraft nemeses; Deep Ones, Nightgaunts and a Chthonian.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem combined the old gods and their avatars with time travel and ancient magic to present gamers with an altogether disturbing experience. As the game progressed and the player was repeatedly exposed to mind blowing horrors the game distorted the players perspective reflecting the characters descent into despair and insanity.
Bethesda developed a direct tribute to Lovecraft with their game, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth which is directly based on Lovecraft’s short story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”. A side quest, “Shadow over Hackdirt”, was also included in The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion. Players must rescue a girl from cultists that worship creatures know as the “Deep Ones”.
Although he died a pauper, consumed by cancer in 1937, Lovecraft’s horrific legacy still lives on. Happy 117th birthday.